Our Carbon Offset Programme aims to keep New Zealand Beautiful

Carbon Offsett

We're dedicated to preserving New Zealand's environment for future generations by reducing our impact today. Recognizing global concerns like climate change and biodiversity loss, we work to minimize our footprint and that of our guests. Discover how we're offsetting carbon emissions and contributing to New Zealand's natural beauty!

Tree Planting

Our story is one of self-awareness and responsibility

For nearly twenty-five years, we've been inviting people to immerse themselves in the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand through a diverse range of adventures. From serene sightseeing tours that showcase the natural wonders and the richness of our land's bounty—including exceptional food and wine—to thrilling activities like hiking, diving, biking, and exploring caves, we offer experiences that celebrate the unique beauty and culture of New Zealand.

Central to our mission is the acknowledgment that we're essentially selling the privilege of enjoying our natural environment. From the very beginning, our goal has been to operate as sustainably as possible. This commitment drives us to continually assess and minimize our environmental footprint, ensuring that the experiences we offer today do not compromise the natural wonders future generations will also want to enjoy.

Planting Bee

But recently we made the decision to get our hands dirty …

Because of the potential impact of climate change to our planet and New Zealand, a healthy natural environment is more important than ever. For us, we recognise that our core business relies on the transportation of guests throughout our beautiful country and therefore there is a carbon cost to the environment.

So after much brainstorming, we have embraced carbon offsetting and its reduction across all of our tourism businesses. A carbon offset broadly refers to a reduction in GHG emissions – or an increase in carbon storage (through the planting of trees) – that is used to compensate for emissions that occur with our travel businesses

Simply put, we are PLANTING TREES and now actually turning soil - It's hot and back-breaking work, but here we are…

Nigel Williamson

Walking the Walk

While our head office is in Auckland, we also have team members operating from our offices in Arrowtown and Queenstown. Eager to champion grassroots environmental efforts, we connected with a dedicated group committed to a lasting vision for enhancing the local environment. This group, known as the Arrowtown Choppers, is at the forefront of making significant improvements to our community's natural surroundings.


The Arrowtown Choppers are a volunteer group dedicated to the eradication of the wilding conifers and native revegetation work around Arrowtown.

To date, volunteers from the local community (including staff from First Light Travel and our sister company New Zealand Trails) have cleared over 100 hectares (247 Acres) of wilding trees and re-planted over 20,000 native trees, including Beech, Totara, Ribbonwood and Kowhai.

The long-term goal of the Arrowtown Choppers is to see natural forest regeneration behind Arrowtown. This includes the introduction of key missing native forest species that were once present. This in turn will help increase the habitat for a range of native birds, lizards, and insects, enriching our biodiversity.

The hills behind Arrowtown have some of the highest densities of falcon in the country due to our mosaic of shrubland, tussock grassland, and beech forest. Small bird species like miromiro/tomtits, piwakawaka/fantails, and korimako/bellbirds and lizards and insects that call the native habitat home are all a vital part of the eco-system. In combination with Predator Free Arrowtown, we hope to eventually establish enough forest so that other birds like kea, kaka, and robin can eventually be reintroduced to the area.

brent and nigel

Positive Benefits in Action

This reforestation project will have many benefits, including:

  • long-term carbon sequestration and allowing our tourism businesses to truly be carbon neutral
  • opportunities for applied research and teaching
  • extension of the Arrowtown Outer Green Belt
  • public access to forested areas and walking tracks
  • establishing working relationships between DOC, the Council, and the public
  • opportunities for staff and clients to engage in volunteer activities
planting Trees Arrowtown

A Lifetime collaboration

The 'Arrowtown Choppers' is a collaborative project supported by the Arrowtown local community and local businesses including First Light Travel and New Zealand Trails. The project is a significant part of our strategy as a tourism business to help offset carbon emissions and contribute to New Zealand's natural beauty!

As the forest develops, the carbon captured in the trees and soil will help offset our carbon dioxide emissions. The current plan is to plant and nurture over 100,000 seedlings for the foreseeable future. Volunteers will plant around 5000 trees per year. 

This collaboration represents a novel approach to reforestation and education, where the indigenous biodiversity of the land will be restored while providing a range of benefits to the community.

Join us on the journey of reducing our environmental footprint.

First Light Travel and our sister company New Zealand Trails are committed to reducing our environmental footprint. Our carbon measurement and offset program to date has allowed us to plant over 3000 native Beech trees.

A mature Beech tree (Nothofagus species) can store around 22 kg of CO2 annually.

This is a long term strategy - yep trees will outlive us all.

You can opt-in and help for as little as $NZ5pp (US$3) - or not, it's ok, we are going to do it anyway. This year we donated $NZ10.000 (that's 3,333 trees) and volunteered a lot of labor - and we intend to do better next and every other year.

Interested to find out more about First Light Travels Sustainability focus?

We are proud to be the major sponsor of the  Arrowtown Community Tree Nursery

Congratulations Danielle! First Light Travel Appoints Sustainability Manager Danielle

Its time to improve our environmental footprint Find Out How to Offset Your Carbon

Check out our article explaining the concept of the QEII Covenant Land Donation: Mahu Whenua Land Donation

Read about our Tree Planting Event in April 2024: First Light Travel Tree Planting April 2024

Learn more about our Tree Planting Event in October 2023: First Light Travel Tree Planting October 2023

Discover more about the 2024 Global Sustainability Conference: 2024 Global Sustainability Conference


Brent Narbey
Brent Narbey
: 23 Oct 2023 (Last updated: 17 Jul 2024)

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